There are a few things that everyone should make a habit of doing well to ensure they recover from workouts and competition optimally such as having a good bedtime routine and getting enough sleep. All other methods of recovery are specific to the individual and change depending on the type of work that was performed and the state the athlete is in. The effectiveness of any recovery method is also adapted to by the body like any other form of training, so different methods are required for long term progress.
The type and intensity of the recovery method used should change in response to the athlete’s reaction to them and the most intense types of recovery should be used when the hardest work has been done. There is no point doing intensive recovery protocols after light sessions as this just makes the body used to them and makes them less effective when they really are needed.
When you apply your recovery protocols is also very important. What I see a lot of the time is teams starting a recovery session as soon as possible after a game. Now performing a recovery session immediately after is a good idea if you need to back up and compete again quickly, let’s say a 9’s tournament or a BJJ competition but it isn’t the best choice if you are looking to recover for the next day.
Talyshev showed that applying recovery methods immediately after your workout or competition improved work capacity right after the treatment and 3 hours later but the next day athletes were worse of then if they didn’t do any recovery at all.
If you wait 3 hours for the system to calm down a bit and then apply the same type of recovery methods it was shown that work capacity increased 6 hours after the treatment and the work capacity was back to the initial level the next day. If the means of recovery were performed 6 to 9 hours after the workout then work capacity increased above the initial level the next day.
This means that it is important to time when you do your recovery sessions. If you need to work out the next day wait 3 hours before performing your recovery, if however you are having a day off in between workouts it is best to wait 6 to 9 hours after your work out as this will ensure that the phase of super-compensation occurs right in time for your next workout. If super-compensation occurs too early, when you aren’t going to work out, then its effects will be wasted.
For example if you train on a Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday split when you perform your recovery could look like this:
Monday – 3 hours post workout
Tuesday – 6-9 hours post workout
Wednesday – day off
Thursday – 3 hours post workout
Friday – 9 hours post workout if having the weekend off.
For my team we usually play our games on a Saturday and don’t train again until the Tuesday so I recommend my players perform their recovery session on the Sunday. They have plenty of time to recover between competition and our next training session but many are labourers so this helps them get through Monday at work and ensure they are ready for Tuesday.
The one recovery method I do start immediately is with post workout nutrition and hydration. I feel that getting in quality nutrients is the biggest factor for optimal recovery and other means are just an added benefit. If they don’t have this aspect down pat all other recovery methods are less effective. You can read more about Peri workout nutrition in this article.
I hope this helps.